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India Mourns Too
A lot of attention has been paid to Col. Ilan Roman, the Israeli astronaut who died on Columbia, but Dr. Kalpana Chawla was a space pioneer beloved by people in her native country too. A reader of Indian heritage writes:
As an American I am saddened by the events of this weekend. I am heartbroken for Israel as well – that country has suffered so much and now this. I just wanted to add that this is also a tragedy for Indians. Although Dr. Chawla was a naturalized American citizen, she apparently kept in contact with her Indian roots and was an inspiration to little Indian boys and girls who now dream of space and conquest and adventure because of her courage.
Read this New York Times story to get an idea of what the reader is talking about.
Media Bias On War Protests and Suvs
My new media analysis column for the Rocky Mountain News examines the media’s egregious failure to inform readers about the Stalinsts organizing the major anti-war protests. I also debunk New York Times claims that Bush is pushing a special tax break for SUVs.
Betcha Didn’t Know
NR contributor John Hood is a poet.
John Leo has an excellent piece out today on an important new study that could focus the debate over affirmative action and encourage the Court to overturn its practice. Affirmative action, it turns out, because it creates a mismatch between minority students and schools, may actually be preventing more minorities from becoming professors. Conservatives have made this kind of point for years, but now even erstwhile liberal advocates of affirmative action are beginning to see the truth about affirmative action’s harms to minorities. Affirmative action really has little to do with the best interests of minority students, and everything to do with assuaging the guilt of white liberals at prestigious universities.
The Real Diversity Story
With all the talk about the “re-segregation” that will supposedly follow a Supreme Court ruling striking down the University of Michigan’s affirmative action programs, the media has missed the real story. Should the Court uphold diversity as a legitimate grounds for preference programs, we will face something much more frightening than a mere freezing in place of affirmative action’s status quo. That’s because the legal status of diversity right now is in doubt. If the Court grants diversity clear constitutional status, all sorts of new and pernicious proposals based on the diversity idea will eventually be floated, and placed before the Courts. Some of these proposals may directly threaten our constitutional system. I talk about the real consequences of a Supreme Court ruling, either for or against the University of Michigan, in the current issue of The Weekly Standard.
Some people have written to say I’m ridiculous to point out that a lot of people are seeing something ominous about the circumstances of the shuttle disaster. I disagree; it’s not important whether or not the disaster was a portent (anyway, how would you verify that?); it’s sociologically, and maybe psychologically, significant that so many people feel somehow that it is. Here’s a nice, balanced column acknowledging that it’s deeply human to look for portents in events like this, but ending by saying that one of the distinguishing marks of Western culture, unlike many Third World traditional societies, is that we ultimately have gotten over magical thinking.
Goodbye Amy Welborn
Amy Welborn is shutting down her blog today (which is why I don’t provide a link to it), saying she’s got too many irons in the fire to keep up with it. Those of us who make our living by writing can certainly understand, but it’s still a shame to see her go. She really made a difference. Amy is not only a fine writer, but a faithful Catholic. Her blog, which appeared (or at least first came to national notice) about a year ago, quickly became a must-read Internet site for news and commentary on the Church sex-abuse scandal. Many of her regular readers (who numbered in the thousands) would argue incessantly in the blog’s comments section over this or that aspect of the scandal, sometimes generating more heat than light, but always doing what rank-and-file American Catholics have not been able to do prior to the Internet: honestly discuss the good, the bad and the ugly in our Church.
Amy’s site was one of the top blogspots for orthodox Catholics seeking real news and commentary on the scandal. There is no question that her site, and the host of others she’s spawned, kept the story alive for many concerned and curious Catholics around the country, whose local media weren’t covering the story comprehensively, and whose diocesan publications were, predictably, as useful and newsy as Pravda and Izvestia. These blogs have become a 21st-century Catholic samizdat for thousands of us. There’s been a lot written about blogging as a new form of journalism; in the case of the Catholic blogs and the Scandal story, they aren’t only a new form of journalism, they are a highly significant new form of journalism. When the history of this agonizing era of Church history is written, faithful Amy Welborn will have a place of honor for the pioneering media work she did in service of the Church she loves. I salute her, and I’ll miss her.
I’m off to go window shopping. Literally. We need to buy new windows. We might as well have iron bars instead of glass panes the way this house leaks heat. Nothing more exciting than spending thousands of dollars on stuff you can’t play with, eat or drive.
But I have one request. If anyone’s read a particularly good article on the economic and political ideology of fascism, I’d be interested in knowing about it. I’m not looking for anything about the racial theories of fascism. I mean all the other stuff. If you could send emails to me at this addresswith “fascism” in the header, that would be great. I’ll explain later.
Steyn, Lowry, Ash, The Economist Etc Etc
I can understand why so many people might think that my brief against the French is their cowardice. After all, the phrase is “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” not “clove-smoking real-politickers.” But if you actually read what I’ve written about the French recently, you’ll see that my real brief isn’t cowardice. It’s hypocrisy. Yes, the French are being bold and brash. Yes, they are ambitious. But they are doing it under the guise of “enlightened opposition” to the United States. As Rich and so many others have pointed out, this is just rhetoric to coceal their real aims. But what galls me (no pun intended) is that their rhetoric is simultaneously dishonest and anti-American. We do not try to justify our foreign policy as a “check” on French influence. We do not claim that France is up to no good in the world (I do, but “we” don’t). The French claim to champion human rights and peace, often suggesting that the United States does not. They claim they are injecting morality into foreign policy checking America’s amoral or immoral foreign policies. And, frankly, (another pun!) they are lying. There’s almost no nasty charge you can make about American foreign policy which does not better describe French foreign policy. For example, when it comes to imperialism, we are pikers compared to them.
I have no problem with the assertion tha the French are “boldly” acting on their self-interests. Indeed, I have no problem with self-interestedness in general. But I am appalled at those who look to the French including, of course, the French themselves, as a moral authority or arbiter of America’s foreign policy. America has done more for human rights, more to relieve man’s estate, and much more to preserve and foster liberty and prosperity in the world than the French ever dreamed. France can claim to be or aspire to be a check on America in the world. Bully for them. But that makes them a problem in my book. They’re not enemies and they’re not evil. But they’re not part of the solution either.
Two important pieces that nail France’s intentions and ambitions in the current crisis. One is William Safire today:
“The underlying purpose of the Schröder-Chirac push was less about protecting or defanging Saddam Hussein than it was about a much more parochial goal: to assert permanent Franco-German bureaucratic dominance over the growing federation of European states. Opposition to American superpower, they thought, was their lever of Archimedes to move the Old World. “
The other is from Mark Steyn, a typically brilliant column on the whole “appeasement” question. Here’s the last bit:
“But through it all France is admirably upfront in its unilateralism: It reserves the right to treat French Africa as its colonies, Middle Eastern dictators as its clients, the European Union as a Greater France and the UN as a kind of global condom to prevent the spread of Americanization. All this it does shamelessly and relatively effectively. It’s time the rest of the West was so clear-sighted.”
Two years ago, Jane Fonda pledged $12.5 million to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to establish a Center to promote the ideas of feminist professor Carol Gilligan. Now Harvard has announced http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/01.30/08?fonda.html that plans for the Center have been scrapped, and most of the money will be returned to Fonda. Harvard says this is because of a stock market slump and a lack of faculty leadership. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Carol Gilligan, who has since left Harvard for NYU, and was supposed to be advising the project, said she knew nothing about the decision. It’s hard to tell what’s really going on here, but it may well be that Harvard had trouble finding a feminist professor of authentic stature to replace Gilligan and manage the center. It’s not impossible that the discrediting of much of the research of Gilligan and her followers by Christina Hoff Sommers played a role. This could be a quiet way in which Harvard’s new president, Lawrence Summers, continues to make a difference.
Placating The Hillsdale Crowd
A few months ago the Hilldale College newspaper ran a cranky rant about how NRO — and particularly me, if I recall correctly — was losing its edge. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. But, for those of you looking for something completely different, today’s G-File should help (or dismay). The first half is a short story of a sort. Don’t worry, I’m not turning into fiction guy (yet).
I won’t be following every new development in the shuttle disaster. I truly feel terrible for the families of these astronauts. The idea of your entire family waiting with pride and excited expectation only to see that is wrenching. I have sympathy for the program and all of the people who feel personally invested. Obviously it’s a tragedy. But I simply do not feel swept up in the sense of national tragedy. Bush gave a wonderful speech and he backed it up by offering more money for the program, which I heartily support (I’m one of those “let’s build cathedrals in space” guys). It seems to me that if you support hurling human cargo into the farthest reaches of the cosmos, you are of necessity supporting life-or-death risk taking by incredibly brave and talented people. To me it’s a no-brainer that the space program should continue as much as it would’ve been a no-brainer that man should still explore if Lewis and Clark or Columbus had died en route.
I could psychoanalyze myself as to why I think the media is going way overboard or I could psychoanalyze everybody else instead. But maybe that would be disrespectful to those who really feel this is a JFK-assasination or Challenger-disaster kind of moment. So let me just close by saying, I don’t feel it and I suspect I am not alone.
Live by The Polls...
For the last few weeks, I’ve had to put up with TV sparring partners who insist that Bush has been leading Americans into an unpopular war nobody supports. I’ve never particularly cared about the polls redarding Iraq, except of course as a purely political issue. I never said, “The American people want war, so we should do it” because that’s a fundamentally illegitimate argument (let’s all vote on killing someone). The consent of the governed maters, obviously, but the anti-war crowd has argued war is bad policy because of the polls — as if war against Japan in WWII would have been a bad idea if polls said so. I wonder if now that more than 2/3rds of Americans support a war and over half support one without UN backing, they’ll still think it’s bad policy. Actually, I don’t wonder at all, but it’s worth asking the question.
Don’t Speak Ill of The Dead!
Katie Couric on the Columbia crew: “They were an airborne United Nations.”
Students Strike Back
Here’s Daphne Patai on how college students (and others) are using the web to monitor political bias in the classroom.